Sunday Sundries … The European Drinker
Another Sunday, some more stories. Today I took it kind of slow, after yesterday`s running all over town, and didn’t get home until after ten at night.
I had shopping to do on the way, So I departed early. I was the only one at the church, but I did not look at my watch (read:phone) on the way. I cranked out set up and was finished by the stroke of five.
Today’s read, was particular in many ways. Coming from Section Three in Experience, Strength and Hope. I noticed that this story, spoke very heavily about God, and quoted scripture, and our man, in the end, began to cultivate his own relationship with his higher power, whom he called God.
The mention of God so up front, and so insistently sets this story apart from the others we have read. As the relationship with God (as we understand Him) is so important in our spiritual and sober maintanance.
Reading this story I identified with several parts of the story:
- The Bottle Hiding
- Drinking in Germany
- Spending time in religious community
- Finding creative solutions to drink better
- The realization that God does exist
When I was a young boy, as I have said in the past, the men in our family were all alcoholic. But my father’s father was the ultimate drinker. He was the ultimate in bottle hiding. Imagine, a bottle in the kitchen under the sink, bottles under the sinks in both bathrooms, Everywhere he could possibly sit down, anywhere, inside or outside the house, a bottle was within an arms reach from that seat.
Next door, in a small strip mall, was the local liquor store AND a tavern called LaRosa’s (that tavern still exists in that same spot to this very day), I have Google Earth’ed the old address, the house has been gone for over a decade, and a shack sits in its place.
The tavern appropriated much of the front yard of the old homestead, to build a much bigger parking lot. They must be packing them in at night.
Our man, from tonight’s story is from Germany, originally. Alsace to be exact.
I have a particular drinking story when I was in my late teens, I took a trip to Europe with my then boss. Little did he know, he’d be a captive tourguide. One stop was Munich, during Octoberfest.
One day we took a tour of Ladies Island. An attraction which boasted a replica copy, castle, called Versailles, as in the Palace of Versailles in Paris. It was handsome and all decked out.
It wasn’t the tour that I remember, but what took place after.
We had coupled up with some travelers on the tour. A young guy and his mother. I would later find out that, my boss had slept with that particular young man, after that trip, much to my consternation. (I was not yet out of the closet).
Anyways, we walked into a tavern. I being a young, white, American, the Germans were going to have a bit of fun, at my expense. I was only willing because it involved alcohol. I found out later, that the Germans were betting to see just how much dark beer I could drink. I had, in the end, upended many steins of beer.
Let’s just say that I was plastered.
We had to get on a bus to take us back to the city. I took a seat on the back wall. And some of you might know how warm it is in the back of the bus, against the back wall, engine and all.
I don’t know what happened next. And I have no memory of it either. What I do remember is waking up in my hotel room, in bed, so sick, I thought I was going to die.
I was told that the bus had to be taken out of service, because apparently, I was sick all over the bus.
Not my proudest moment …
Time spent in a religious community
The Chapel and grounds of St. John Vianney College Seminary, Miami.
Prior to my Really Good Job, I spoke about in an earlier post, the job that afforded me the above mentioned trip to Europe, I had spent the year prior in a Catholic Seminary in Miami.
I was not drinking, because I was only 19 years old, so going out to a bar was non existent. Many of my classmates, I would later learn, were GAY, and they used to hit the local Gay Bar “Uncle Charlie’s,” in Miami, after I had come out of the closet, later on.
I could not reconcile Gay / Seminarians, and a calling to serve God in the same breath. I was naive and somewhat very idealistic, in my own thought about serving God. I had not an inclination that I was gay at that period of my life yet.
But Church and Homosexuality WAS a thing when I attended seminary. IN fact, it was thrown in my face every day that I was there.
Drinking … The seminary had several buildings. The library/office, the rectory with chapel, the students residence/classrooms. And the Chapel, on the grounds.
A certain rector, who shall remain nameless, I loved and adored him. He was a great man, who had a great problem. He was an alcoholic. Many a nights would pass, and we would be up in the residences, after hours, and He would come up to our rooms, totally plastered. And a number of times, I found myself, along with a few others, who would take him back to the rectory and put him to bed.
That kept happening. That at some point, the diocese decided to remove him from the Seminary and they put him someplace to get “better.” That did not go over very well with me. I could not see why they had to send him away. I lobbied very vocally, my disapproval of the way the diocese handled the issue.
The man they sent to us in return, was a pompous, arrogant, thought he was Pope, was holier than thou, asshole. I could not stand him. It was he, in the end, I think, who had veto or acceptance powers of who stayed and who went.
At the end of the year, it was I who was asked to go.
Many years later, sitting here, in the very spot I am sitting right now, read that a handful of priests and seminarians from my old seminary days were in jail for various reasons. One of those men, was the man I cared a great deal for.
**** **** ****
We read these stories and we get to see how our folks thought about what they drank, how they drank, and how they invariably, went to great measures to try and figure out, how to drink MORE, without the associated after affects.
As a young gay boy, I went to the bar when I was old enough to do so. It was the place I enjoyed much of my twenties. Alcohol was present at ALL the jobs I had. It was part and parcel of working in the travel industry.
Alcohol was served at work, often. Then after work I would hit happy hour and drink until happy hour ended.
I would drive home …
Change my clothes, and drive back to the bar for the nightly drink specials, and dance parties.
And drive home again…
There came a time when I could not drink every day. It was just impossible. By the time I quit drinking the first time, (in Fort Lauderdale) you could very easily drink 23 hours a day … for real !!! I did that on occasion.
I would then resort to the binge drink, do the drag show and dance till 5 a.m. run, every night after work. I was working for Todd by now.
He got me sober. And saved my life.
It was on my slip, that last few months that the binge became ritual. That one night of week blow out, that ended in total destruction.
Even that did not last for very long, until I hit my bottom.
The rest they say is history.
There is a God, And I am NOT God.
I love God.
I love my friends.
I would only change portions of my story if I could go back and relive them. I would want to know how certain sections of my story would have turned out had I stayed in certain places, schools, jobs, careers. Or what woud have happened had I followed Todd to California, when he did leave.
That is probably one of my few regrets.
I should have gone, But I believed with all my heart that my fate was to reclaim family after my father’s hopeful crash, burn and death.
SADLY, my father is still alive … BOOOO …
He wants nothing to do with me to this day. His loss…
Thank God I never have to drink again.